File photo: Late IFP MP Oriani-Ambrosini. Picture COURTNEY AFRICA

Durban - Inkatha Freedom Party MP Mario Oriani-Ambrosini was an independent thinker and not afraid to speak his mind, NFP president Zanele KaMagwaza-Msibi said on Sunday.

“He was such a creative, critical, independent and lateral thinker and he was not afraid to speak his mind,” she said in a statement.

“He was ready to guide and share information with anyone. Dr Ambrosini would not sleep if he had an assignment that he had to complete.”

KaMagwaza-Msibi sent condolences to the Ambrosini family and the IFP.

“I also convey my condolences to the Prince of KwaPhindangene, Dr Mangosuthu Buthelezi... and all members of the IFP who lived and worked so closely with Dr Ambrosini.”

Chief Justice Mogoeng Mogoeng said on Saturday that the MP would be remembered.

“Dr Ambrosini will be remembered as an astute jurist and we were still looking forward to his continued contribution in the country's intellectual discourse on our Constitution,” he said in a statement.

“Despite his ill-health, he remained steadfast in his convictions as a human rights activist of note.”

Oriani-Ambrosini died on Saturday at the age of 53 after battling a rare form of inoperable lung cancer.

Mogoeng said South Africa was the poorer for his passing and hoped that his life's work would continue to inspire the youth and instil in them the kind of constitutional activism that characterised his life.

“On behalf of the judiciary in our country, I wish to thank his wife and children for having allowed us to share this giant of a man and I trust they will find strength in knowing that he ran a good race,” he said.

Parliament also paid tribute to him and said Oriani-Ambrosini fought a valiant battle against cancer.

“We extend heartfelt condolences to his family, friends and his party, the IFP,” it said in a statement.

“He was tenacious in pursuing issues about which he felt strongly.”

Oriani-Ambrosini first became a Member of Parliament in 2009. Earlier this year, after the May 7 elections, a very frail Oriani-Ambrosini lifted himself out of his wheelchair with the help of an ornate walking stick a year after announcing his diagnosis, and read the oath of Parliament in his marked Italian accent.